THE Dragons’ excruciatingly long wait for a Guinness PRO14 away win is over after they held their nerve to hammer 14-man Zebre in Parma.

The Rodney Parade region had not won in 45 league fixtures on the road since their March, 2015 triumph in Treviso but ended the hoodoo in style by racking up a half-century at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

A penalty try and scores by scrum-half Rhodri Williams, wing Owen Jenkins (2), full-back Jordan Williams, flanker Taine Basham and number eight Harri Keddie secured the success, along with the help of a red card for home winger Charlie Walker at the start of the second half for his second yellow.

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Four and a half years had passed since Lyn Jones’ Dragons experienced that winning feeling on the road in Treviso.

Dean Ryan was the fourth boss to try and end that streak, following in the footsteps of Kingsley Jones, Bernard Jackman and last season’s caretaker coach Ceri Jones.

The season opener at Munster was always a long shot but a return to Italy to face Zebre – who finished bottom of the PRO14 last season and hadn’t won in the tournament since last October – was as winnable as they come.

And win they did, thanks to some high-tempo rugby that stressed their hosts and tired their legs – even when Zebre had 15 there was a real intent from Ryan’s men.

That was combined with a strong scrum with Wales tighthead Leon Brown producing another fine display in the loose as well as set piece.

It means that thankfully the embarrassing run is over and it should allow the Dragons, who have endured several frustratingly narrow away losses, to relax a bit more away from Newport.

The victory also means that they have the opportunity to turn an encouraging start to the campaign into a super one with home fixtures against Connacht and Glasgow coming up.

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The Dragons headed to Parma confident of success even though they were without the influential pair of Ashton Hewitt and Ollie Griffiths after they suffered injuries in the season opener at Munster.

Another blow scuppered their plan to rotate their senior looseheads with Ryan Bevington’s late withdrawal leading to Brok Harris retaining the 1 jersey and prospect Josh Reynolds coming onto the bench.

After a manic start it was the Italians that struck first after working their way into the 22 and then, with penalty advantage being played, crossing from close range through flanker Iacopo Bianchi.

Michelangelo Biondelli converted for 7-0 and was given two more easy points in the 16th minute after a second try that was a shocker from the Dragons’ point of view.

Lewis Evans provided good lineout ball but scrum-half Rhodri Williams picked out the giant frame of number eight Giovanni Licata, who galloped under the posts from halfway.

The Dragons responded well with a strong scrum to win a penalty and their need for a spark was shown by the decision to go for the corner and then, after another offence close to the line, a quick tap.

The ball was recycled and Rhodri Williams’ long pass to the left wing found Will Talbot-Davies, who leapt to gather and attempted to acrobatically finish.

His feet hit the touchline but the Wales sevens international had been tackled in the air by Walker, an offence that led to a penalty try and a sin bin for the former Harlequin.

The Dragons were soon level courtesy of a strong kick chase by Owen Jenkins that earned a penalty that was kicked to the corner.

The drive was stopped but Wales tighthead Brown barged to within a yard and scrum-half Williams made amends for the seven points he had gifted Zebre.

Sam Davies levelled with the simple conversion and the Dragons looked for the lead, playing high-tempo rugby and trying to move around their hosts.

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It was that attacking intent that saw them turn down three points to go back to the corner approaching half-time but this time the bravery backfired with the drive stopped and then a turnover conceded in the 22.

There was more frustration when a lineout in the 22 was followed by a move that put flanker Basham in motion and over the line, only for the hole to have been created by Irish referee Sean Gallagher.

The Dragons were not being cutthroat enough in enemy territory and paid the price with the final play of the half.

Hooker Richard Hibbard knocked on in halfway to allow Zebre one last attack and it looked like it would earn three points, only for scrum-half Josh Renton to catch them napping with a quick tap and finish.

The Dragons should have been leading at the break only for Biondelli’s conversion to make it 21-14.

Yet it was the visitors who were given a golden shot just 30 seconds after the restart when Walker was the victim of a team warning for breakdown offences, the winger picking up his second yellow that was followed by the red.

It was soon level-pegging with Renton undoing his good work on the stroke of half-time by flinging a long pass in his 22 that was picked off by wing Jenkins, who finished superbly for a try that Davies converted.

The Dragons had their noses in front for the first time on 50 minutes when Zebre made a terrible mistake in kicking long and loose to Jordan Williams, one of the most dangerous broken field runners in the league.

The full-back weaved his way past several weary defenders to go under the posts for a try that Davies converted.

At 28-21 up versus 14 men the Dragons simply had to seal the deal and end the streak; playing it smart was order of the day.

Fly-half Davies ensured that if Zebre were to strike then they would have to do it from deep and then the Wales international twisted the knife by slotting from the tee after his pack had earned a scrum penalty inside the final quarter.

That deflated the hosts and the tries came quickly in the closing stages with Jenkins diving over for his second after the forwards had hammered away.

A Jordan Williams break and lovely offload put flanker Basham over and then Keddie smashed his way over to hit the half-century.

The hosts had the final say with a penalty try from a driving lineout that earned their bonus, but that was never going to spoil a fine night of work by the Dragons.

After 54 months the monkey is finally off their back.

Zebre: M Cioffi, C Walker, J Elliott, E Lucchin, P Bruno, M Biondelli, J Renton, D Rimpelli, M Manfredi, A Tarus, M Kearney, G Biagi (captain), J Bianchi, J Meyer, G Licata. Replacements: M Ceciliani, P Buonfiglio, E Bello, S Ortis, A Tauyavuca, N Casilio, L Mantelli, F Mori.

Scorers: tries – J Bianchi, G Licata, J Renton, penalty; conversions – M Biondelli (3)

Dragons: J Williams (J Botica 77), W Talbot-Davies, T Morgan, J Dixon (A Warren 57), O Jenkins, S Davies, R Williams (captain, T Knoyle 72), B Harris (J Reynolds 77), R Hibbard (R Lawrence 68), L Brown (L Fairbrother 72), J Davies (H Taylor 49), M Screech (M Williams 78), L Evans, T Basham, H Keddie.

Scorers: tries – penalty, R Williams, O Jenkins (2), J Williams, T Basham, H Keddie; conversions – S Davies (6); penalty – S Davies

Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)

Argus star man: Leon Brown